A .500 free football picks week never gets a smile out of me, especially when I had so many great calls. Bengals over Ravens? You bet, 49ers getting ousted by visiting Falcons, yes sir! Cleveland getting 6? Great bet! Giants over the Raiders despite the public love? Any day of the week… But there were some games that didn’t go my way, a half point loss, a complete run through at the hands of the Hawks, and many more. Here’s everything I had….
Cincinnati Bengals (+9) @ Baltimore Ravens: (WINNER) “I think the Ravens and Bengals are eerily similar as far as team skill is concerned. So 9 points obviously seems like way too much for me. Many are forgetting that the Bengals are one hail-mary away from being 4-0 to start the season. They haven’t dominated their competition, but 3 wins (two against quality opponents like Green Bay and Pittsburgh) give me a lot to like. A lot of people like to say that spreads don’t mean much, that the team that wins covers 80% of the time – and that may be true, but I think this game has the makings of a down-to-the-wire contest, with either team needing a big play to get the win.” If you watched this game, you’d see that these teams are very similar, in both style and talent. Both use a very solid defense to stay close, both rely heavily on the rushing attack, and both make big plays to win games with they have to. The Bengals got the ball last, they got help from some stupid Raven penalties, and they got the win, outright, over the Ravens. You bet!
Cleveland Browns (+6) @ Buffalo Bills: (WINNER) “I hate to do this, because seeing Eric Man-Jina trade away his star offensive receiver only to put together his first win of the season in the process kind of makes me sick to my stomach. But, as the cards begin to stack, I can see too much to like about Cleveland and the points. They proved last week that they can run the ball well against a good defense. That should go a long way to covering the spread against the Bills.” What’s gross about this game is the fact that the team that won had a quarterback that completed just 2 of 17 passes for 26 yards, while throwing an interception. But like I said, the Browns ability to run the ball would go a long way in terms of covering the spread, and it definitely did. The fact that Cleveland covered and Eric Mangini has to feel like he runs the worst offense in the league makes me feel a lot better about this whole thing.
Washington Redskins @ Carolina Panthers (-3.5): (LOSS) Damn both these teams, all the way to the bottom of their divisions as far as I’m concerned. I know the Panthers will have to fight softly and carry a little twig to finish below the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I can only hope. The Panthers were down 17-2 halfway through the 3rd quarter, and yet they still managed a way to win and not cover by a half point. I feel used that I lost this game by a half point, but I also feel lucky for it to have been so close after it was 17-2. Either way I lose, look bad or look good, a loss stings.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5) @ Detroit Lions: (LOSS) I hate the Steelers play calling. I’m pretty sure that is what keeps them in close games this season. What didn’t they like about handing the ball to Rashard Mendenhall and getting 5 yards a carry throughout the first half? They should have eaten clock through the 3rd and 4th quarters, but even then I should have covered this game. It took a 25 yard touchdown pass late in the 4th for the Lions to get back in coverage zone. Puke. This is how those double digit spreads come back to haunt you. Still, while I’ll take the loss with open arms, you have to see a bad beat here. They Lions got a pick 6 and a long 4th quarter touchdown pass to get within 8, this game belonged to the Steelers.
Dallas Cowboys (-8.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs: (LOSS) I don’t know how the Cowboys didn’t cover this spread. Maybe it was the fumbles, maybe just the poor defensive secondary play? Maybe it was the entire first half of being so careful that my grandma would have been begging me to change the channel for some more action. Regardless, the Cowboys needed an out of this world performance from Miles Austin to win the game at all, an OT thriller indeed. I believed in the Cowboys again, it hurt my heart again.
Oakland Raiders @ New York Giants (-15): (WINNER) Thanks for the money, Oakland. I’m not sure where I heard it, but it still has my in stitches, “Roger Goodell needs to stop worrying about fining players for every thing they do and start trying to find a way to unplug the battery that is keeping Al Davis alive.” The Giants killed the Raiders, what’s new?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+15) @ Philadelphia Eagles: (LOSS) I don’t know what to say, there was a time when a 15 point dog that played some decent games was on hell of a bet. That was another time, another place, not today in the NFL. The Eagles wear big boy pants, the Bucs are that weird pirate guy dressed up in the corner of a Halloween party, the guy nobody knows but everyone’s too nice to kick out because he’s just sitting there looking lost and innocent as can be. It’s hard. That’s a buccaneer, these are the Buccaneers.
Minnesota Vikings (-10) @ St. Louis Rams: (WINNER) “My opinion, the Rams are the worst team in football. Another opinion, the Vikings are one of the best. I know this game is on the road in a dome after a short week, but I can’t over-think this match-up too much. It’s the Vikings and the Rams – and I have to think the Vikings are at least 10 points better than the worst team in football. A dissolved offensive line, a running game that will find no room, and a quarterback issue that has no answer on the team.” Not over-thinking helped me a lot in this one, I wish I could have done that in the Eagle game.
Atlanta Falcons (+2.5) @ San Francisco 49ers: (WINNER) “I want to take the Niners here, before any research I liked the 49ers, especially just -2.5 at home. I think the 49ers are one of the better teams in football. Atlanta travels a long way to play an old foe, and the Falcons offense hasn’t been nearly as successful as they were last year. The running game has slowed down to a crawl, and Matt Ryan hasn’t thrown the ball all that much, taking very few chances. But I wonder what a week away will do to the Falcons, and I wonder what a week away from playing the JV team in St. Louis does for the 49ers. What I’ve found in my research with Atlanta is that they generally struggle against teams that throw the ball real well, not necessarily a strength of the 49ers. Over their last 14 games, they’ve only lost to the Eagles, Patriots, Cardinals, and Saints – what do all those teams have in common? Prolific passers, air attacks that do most of their offensive damage. Atlanta isn’t great against the run, but they seem to do okay if they can key in on that part of an offense. Shaun Hill has done a good job, but the Falcons will make him win the game for the 49ers. History says he won’t be able to, and that has me going with the small road dog.” Bingo! Yhatzee! Right on the Money! A lot of my buddies called me nuts for this selection, and despite my admiration for Mike Singletary, it feels really good to be right in those situations. Stupid buddies, smart Lucky!
Houston Texans @ Arizona Cardinals (-5.5): (WINNER) The Cardinals are painful to watch. Often, in the same game, they seem like one of the better teams in the league and one of the worst teams in the league. They throw the ball too much, rely heavily on timing throws, and often get into 3rd and long situations. But sometimes they march down the field, scoring with absolute ease. The first half they were that good team, and the second half they needed an awesome goal line stand and a pick six to get the win. I’ll take what I can get.
New England Patriots (-3) @ Denver Broncos: (LOSS) Mike Holmgren-like play calling sealed the Patriots fate, as far as I’m concerned. Draws on 2nd and 3rd down forced punts in the 2nd half, giving the Broncos just enough opportunity to get a huge win. I feel cheated in this one, because the Patriots had to only continue doing what they were doing to succeed. But the Broncos did what they’ve been doing all year, found a way to win and took full advantage.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) @ Seattle Seahawks: (LOSS) The Hawks were hurting, but it didn’t matter. The Jags came out soft, Jones-Drew couldn’t find room to run, Aaron Curry was a beast, and Matt Hasselbeck took full advantage of his wide open receivers. How wrong was I here? Try 44-0…. What can a guy do? Sometimes you swing and miss, sometimes you swing and fall down, but times like this, you swing and miss and fall down and hit yourself in the head on your follow through. Yeah, tough one.
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) @ Tennessee Titans: (WINNER) This one was easier than I thought. The public loved it and I went for it. Glad I did as Peyton has the league on lock-down right now.
New York Jets (-2) @ Miami Dolphins: (LOSS) The Jets defense gave up a lot in this one. Miami ran the ball with power and that wildcat did lots of work. They needed a late touchdown to win it, but with 7 second left Ronnie Brown gave his Fins exactly that. The Jets had their chances to get it done, but Miami had the last laugh, and too full advantage. 7-7 in Week 5, not much there to fall in love with.